Walker Buehler: Shohei Ohtani Bringing NFL Atmosphere To Dodgers

Originally published by DodgerBlue.com

The Los Angeles Dodgers opened up their Spring Training schedule with pitchers and catchers reporting last week and a handful of position players arriving early to begin their ramp-up process as well.

Among those were Shohei Ohtani, Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Tyler Glasnow, the offseason trio that signed to contracts totaling more than $1 billion in salary commitments from the Dodgers.

By bringing Ohtani to a historic franchise like the Dodgers, his status as a global athlete elevated fanfare and media interest with his new team. Yamamoto’s arrival had a similar effect, with him being one of the most decorated starters in Nippon Professional Baseball history.

Dodgers players who have been around in year’s prior have seen a clear shift with outside interest in the team, which Walker Buehler believes is a positive development, per Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic:

“It kind of becomes a little bit more like a football Sunday every day,” Buehler said. “I think it’s great for us as a team, great for a lot of the guys on our team that are going to get more attention for what they do and for our team as well. … I think it’s good for the game to be covered in this way. We’re fortunate to have it here.”

Buehler and his Dodgers teammates have seen Ohtani at Dodger Stadium this offseason preparing for the upcoming season. That same approach is evident at Camelback Ranch, as the two-way star has taken on an ‘act like I’m a rookie’ mentality.

The two-time unanimous MVP said he’ll be healthy enough to open the season as the team’s every day designated hitter. Ohtani won’t be available to pitch this year, although his rehab from elbow surgery is going according to plan.

Buehler is ahead in camp, but his start to the season will be delayed, with the Dodgers taking a cautious view on the right-hander rejoining the starting rotation.

What should the Dodgers expect from Walker Buehler?

Prior to undergoing a second Tommy John surgery, Buehler was slated to be a prominent piece in the Dodgers’ rotation in 2022. He was tabbed as the Opening Day starter, and had already delivered in key postseason games and moments.

Entering his final season under contract with the Dodgers, Buehler will have to maximize his opportunities in a return to pitching after a few bumps. If all things click, Buehler has the possibility to garner a great deal of interest in free agency.

Statistical expectations are still to be determined, but the right-hander no longer has a triple-digit fastball, and has to rely more on sequencing and finding a good mix.

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